What: Whistler Film Festival
What: Opening Gala – Whistler Stories
When: Thursday, Nov. 29, 8 p.m.
Where: Telus Conference Centre
Pique Newsmagazine caught up with filmmaker Armen Evrensel amidst final DVD production of the feature film, Let it Ride!, which premiered at the Whistler Film Festival last year.
The team is just wrapping up production for DVD distribution in Canada this month. Amidst post production supervising, the Vancouver writer/producer/whatever-needs-to-get-done takes time to talk about his new short film entitled Binty, which will screen at the gala opening of the Whistler Film Festival Nov. 29 at 8 p.m.
Binty was produced as part of the festival’s Whistler Stories filmmaking commissioning program. Each year the festival funds four short film projects ($5,000 each) based on stories around Whistler. The other three film projects for 2007 are Whistler’s snowboard history by Lenny Rubenovitch, Extreme Seniors by Lisa Fernandez, and Journey To The Rainbow by Graem Luis.
Evrensel first discovered the filmmaking program when he attended a screening of Zero Sum at the Whistler Film Festival two years ago. Evrensel received a Leo nomination for Best Screenwriting in a Feature Length Drama for Zero Sum.
But Evrensel’s Whistler roots run far deeper than the festival. The son of Jack Evrensel, owner of Top Table Restaurants (Which includes Araxi in Whistler), grew up in Whistler before moving to Vancouver as a teenager.
The screenwriting program at New York University followed, along with writing and/or producing $35-million feature films such as The Zero Sum, Masters of the Sea and Let It Ride.
Evrensel downsized his storytelling talents from feature length to five-minutes for Binty, challenging himself to capture the essence of his film’s subject, master potter Vincent “Binty” Massey, in 300 seconds.
“I took a two-pronged approach,” Evrensel said. “I wanted to get the best visuals as possible with his art and present a snippet of his life. With a short film, you can’t tell a whole story, but give someone a scene that will hopefully have resonance to figure out the (person’s) personality or the rest of the situation.”
It wasn’t Binty the potter or Binty the legendary ski bum or Binty the studio owner or even Binty the homebuilder Evrensel chose to highlight in his film. It was the story of Binty, the search and rescue volunteer, which best conveyed the multi-faceted Whistlerite. Binty was part of a rescue effort to save a kite skier who broke through the ice on Green Lake in March of 2005.
“He’s known as a potter, but some know him as a snowboarder, rescuer and boatman,” Evrensel said.
The five-minute film was produced on a $5,000 festival grant; however, with volunteers and sponsorship, the total cost of the 35-milimetre film runs somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 thanks to the wily talents of producer John Hewson.
“I told John I needed 30,000 feet of 35 mm film for free,” Evrensel said, laughing. “Kirk Shaw, (a) producer for Insight Pictures, had film leftover from one of his features, so I just scotched it… Thirty-five millimeter has the best colour and the way it captures light is amazing. Some shots just blew me away. If you shot on video, there would have been all this darkness and shadows in the background, but when I was looking at the footage, it was like, ‘oh my god, you can see everything.’”
Binty will screen with the three other Whistler Stories films at the opening gala. The short films will be followed by a feature presentation of the film, Days of Darkness.
Tickets are $25 in advance and are now on sale at the festival box office, located at Blackcomb Lodge, or from whistlerfilmfestival.com or by calling 1-877-913-FILM (3456).